WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said Friday he supports the idea of expunging the two impeachments of Donald Trump as hard-right Republican allies of the former president introduce a pair of proposals to declare it as though the historic charges never happened.
McCarthy told reporters that he agrees with Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Elise Stefanik who want to erase the charges against Trump from the former president’s impeachments of 2019 and 2021.
“I think it is appropriate,” said McCarthy, the Republican from California. “Just as I thought before — that you should expunge it, because it never should have gone through.”
Pressed on his views, McCarthy said he agreed with expunging both of Trump’s impeachments — the abuse of power charges in 2019 over pressing Ukraine’s president to dig up dirt on rival Joe Biden and the 2021 charge that Trump incited the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the Capitol as Trump supporters tried to overturn Biden’s election.
In both cases, Trump was acquitted by the Senate after his impeachment by the House. But expunging the charges from his record would be an action he could further tout as vindication as he seeks another term in the White House.
The effort is the latest effort by Trump’s allies to rewrite the narrative of the defeated president’s tenure in office. And it underscores the pressure McCarthy is under from his right flank.
Just this week, McCarthy beat back a proposal from Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., to impeach President Biden, sending it instead to committees for review.
In explaining his views, McCarthy said the first Trump impeachment, in 2019, should have never happened, conflating it with a separate investigation by the Justice Department into Russian interference into the 2016 election.
As for the 2021 trial that was conducted swiftly in the week after the riot at the Capitol, he said: “The second impeachment had no due process.”
The speaker gave no indication he would move quickly to bring forward the proposals from Greene, R-Ga., and Stefanik, R-N.Y., who is the fourth-ranking GOP leader, for House votes. Pressed if the proposals were a priority, he shifted to listing other GOP goals.
Asked if he had spoken to Trump about expunging the impeachment record, McCarthy said he had not.
Trump, who is campaigning to return to the White House, is the first president in U.S. history to be twice impeached by the House, though he was acquitted by the Senate of all charges.
Democrats have defended their decision to quickly impeach Trump a second time after the mob attack at the Capitol in 2021. They argue that the evidence played out for the world to see as the defeated president rallied his supporters to Washington and encouraged them to march to the Capitol as Congress was certifying Biden’s election.
Trump was first impeached in 2019 after it was disclosed that he encouraged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to dig up political dirt on then-White House rival Biden ahead of the 2020 presidential campaign — while Trump was withholding U.S. military aid to Ukraine as it faced Russia.
Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press